Page 274 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2006

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I have said many times that these sporting arrangements and these organisations are part of the glue that creates a better and progressive society. You cannot say too much in favour of the people that organise these clubs. Running these clubs is not just about collecting fees and organising rosters, although that might be what it looks like from the outside. It is about keeping up with changes in the rules of the game; enlisting volunteers; grading teams, and making sure people have the skills to do this; recruiting and supporting coaches and managers—encouraging people to come forward, gain the skills and put in the time as volunteers; fundraising; ensuring that all the teams have quality, safe equipment; enlisting volunteers; merchandise sales; attendance at meetings and forums to represent players; organising interclub visits and school carnivals; promoting fair play, for which the club was awarded the fair play club award for its 2nd and 3rd division teams; and securing sponsorship.

None of those tasks are easy and they take a lot of time for everybody involved. I must say that I am in awe of the people at this club—and that applies to many other clubs that provide sporting opportunities for young people. It has been a pleasant experience to be associated with the people that are behind the Belwest Foxes because of the professional way they run this small business and their commitment to making sure that this game is a success for all of the young people. With a budget of less than $100,000, they manage to put 700 or so people on the paddock during the season every weekend, time after time after time. I think that is a magnificent effort and I would like to congratulate the outgoing committee, led by President Adrian Dodd, for all of the hard work that they have done over the past year.

I know that there will be some new committee members coming on board after the annual general meeting, which I attended last evening, and I would like to acknowledge them and of course wish them all the very best in their efforts during the forthcoming year. We as community leaders and politicians that represent people right across the ACT know that these sorts of organisations create a better place for our people to live in and to develop in. It is especially important to engage with young people at an early age so that they can socialise with people in a peer group that they enjoy.

Mental health

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (6.05): The issue of mental health is a significant one in our society. More than 16 per cent or 3.3 million Australians are affected by a mental disorder in any one year. Around 14 per cent of Australians have diagnosed mild or moderate mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, and severe illnesses affect around 2.5 per cent of the population at any one time. Those illnesses include disabling psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as severe depression and anxiety disorders. Up to seven per cent of these people are not receiving any treatment, and nearly a quarter or 117,000 of them are receiving only very limited health care treatment.

I learnt from an early age about the complexities and frustrations of the mental health system, from living with a mother who has bipolar disorder, which, of course, used to be called manic depression. I have always followed closely with interest the issue of mental illness in Australia, but even more so since the Standing Committee on Health and

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